Anyway, I suppose it first started back when I was a child, growing up in my parents' house in Jersey. Every weekend, or at least, every weekend the weather was nice -- my parents would fire up the old gas grill and cook up a half dozen burger babies -- smothered in cheese, and covered with Jersey fresh tomatoes -- and we'd all sit on the deck and watch the sunset, and eat burgers. And it ruled.
And during the winter, my mom would always cook these amazing family recipes (like meatloaf, and chicken cacciatore and breaded pork chops) -- and they were all totally delicious -- but nothing came close to sitting on the deck, the whole family together, celebrating summer and togetherness over burgers.
Sweet deck. (Not at my parents' house [I wish.])
From then on, I always liked burgers, and in high school and even college, getting a burger with friends was part of an active social life -- after play practice, or a debate tournament (I was super popular in high school, if you can't tell) -- my friends and I would all pile into my '93 Ford Taurus and off we'd go, to Friendlies, where a burger and conehead sundae were just the beginning of undeniable fun times.
When I met my college boyfriend (the handsome Matt -- who I'm still with now!) grabbing a burger was our de facto date option, since we were both too poor to go anywhere nice, and had limited options for cooking ourselves, unless we wanted to use oil and a frying pan in the communal kitchen at Pilam.
Now that I'm older, I have my OWN kitchen, and a grill, and sometimes on summer weekends, I get up close and personal with ground beef and onions, and make my own yummy patties. But mostly, I like exploring OTHER places' burgers, to find the juiciest, and most delicious burger of all. I haven't found it yet, but I DO have a few faves. Here are my top burger stops in my neighborhood, Center City.
1. Misconduct Tavern. The Misconduct burger is large, juicy, perfectly cooked, and comes with a heaping portion of aoli and fries. This burger is consistently awesome, although at 1/2 a pound, I try to save it for special occasions / weeks when I won't be wearing a bathing suit, as this bad boy causes some SERIOUS bloating.
Misconduct burger. Courtesy of Yelp user Walter K.
2. Good Dog. The Good Dog burger comes filled with Roquefort cheese, which is one of my favorite things in the world, and even better in a burger. Sometimes I dream about this burger. It should be noted however that the regular burger (sans the cheese) is nothing special, which makes me wonder if the Roquefort isn't all just clever enticement. I've been enticed by cheese before.
Good Dog burger. Courtesy of Yelp user Tina L.
3. Ted's Montana Grill. Is it embarrassing to admit that I've dined at Ted's, and think their burger is decent enough to warrant a shout-out? Maybe it is, but for all you naysayers, I have one word for you: buffalo. Mmm, buffalo. The buffalo burger is so lean and juicy, it makes you salivate. Try it with the blue cheese olived-stuffed martini!
Ted's bison burger. From Yelp user Xavier P. God bless you, Yelp.
4. Grace Tavern. Arguably not in the neighborhood, but so good I had to include it anyway! The perfect burger trifeca of affordability, quality and deliciousness. When the Grace Burger is good, it is soooooooo good -- and when it's not good, it's cuz there's no one else in the joint, they turned on the grill just for you, and accidentally charred it. But a charred Grace burger still beats most others in my book.
Grace burger. From Foodzings
5. FIVE GUYS. Yeah, there's lots of other decent burgers in town: Locust Rendezvous does a bang-up job for about $7, and Doobies has burgers, board games, and atmosphere. But let's be honest here: if I have an undeniable burger hankering, and about $5 in my wallet (as is usually the case): you can't beat The Guys of Five. This jawn is large, fresh, and comes with all the free, delicious toppings you want. My biggest challenge? Carrying it all the way home without being tempted to eat it on the way!
Speaking of which...just writing this blog post (and finding all these burger photos) has me pretty much gnawing my hand off here...sooooo I'm gonna stop now and turn to you instead. Where do YOU think the best burger in Philly is? And most importantly: how soon can I get one?